A Bra of size

Breast cancer survivor Leslie Ezelle teams with artist George Tobolowsky to create a traveling sculpture of hope and female empowerment

THINK PINK | A huge bra sculpture will lead a ‘pinking’ trend where people can donate to Susan G. Komen.

JENNY BLOCK  | Contributing Writer
lifestyle@dallasvoice.com

Turning adversity into opportunity is the hallmark of a fighter. But using a giant bra do it? Well, that requires vision, commitment… and maybe a sense of humor.

“Cancer was not on my to-do list,” says Leslie Ezelle, HGTV Design Star contestant, former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and breast cancer survivor. But as anyone who has wrangled with the disease knows, cancer doesn’t care about to-do lists or anything else for that matter.

Ezelle, generally gregarious, withdrew when she got the diagnosis.

“I was a turd when I went through breast cancer, though people were fantastic the entire time,” she says. Ezelle resented it when people gave her pink things as signs of solidarity and support.

“Someone gave me a hat and I threw it like a little baby brat. I was sick of anything pink. I was having what I call my ‘titty-pity party.’ Serving bitter, party of one!”

After six surgeries and a healing process Ezelle says would have gone much more smoothly had she laid down and rested as advised, Ezelle was cured but still withdrawn. Her mom finally snapped her out of her haze, encouraging her to audition for Design Star.

She was eliminated before the finale, but that didn’t dampen her newfound love of life. After being kicked off the show, she started working with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to assuage some of her guilt about her bad patient behavior.

Enter a 14-foot high, 13-foot wide, 1950s-inspired metal bra sculpture, created by Ezelle and artist George Tobolowsky, titled “Ann-e Girl.” Named after the late sister of Ezelle’s partner, who succumbed to breast cancer, the piece, crafted from metal straps, will be hung on a metal branch signifying the “tree of life.” It will be the harbinger of “pinking” whatever location at which the bra appears, and help Ezelle in her goal to raise an additional $29,000 for Komen — in about a month.

“You can’t strap a good woman down is the theme,” Ezelle explains. “The bra will move. Wherever the bra goes, that is when the building goes pink, trailblazing through Dallas and leaving a wake of pink behind it.”

“Pinking” involves painting, lighting or decorating an area or building in pink to raise funds and awareness for the Komen fund. “Dallas is a little late to the party — pinking has been really successful in other cities,” Ezelle says.

The movement will begin with the pinking of the West Village on Pride Saturday at 5 p.m., when the sculpture will be unveiled. The event will include live performances, video presentations and tributes to the battle against breast cancer. One of the videos is of mothers with breast cancer — survivors and those who have lost the battle — and their children.

“For the music, I’ve changed some of the words to a Bob Dylan song that Adele does called ‘Make you Feel my Love,’” says Ezelle. “Now it’s basically the words a mom who died because of breast cancer would have said to her kids. Like my contact at Komen always says, ‘It’s the tearjerkers that really get people involved.’ This will be a tearjerker.”

Attendees will have the chance to register with Team Leslie for the Komen Dallas Race for the Cure on Oct. 15, and also to write something on a bra in honor of someone they love who is fighting or has lost the battle with breast cancer. The bras will be then be hung on the trees by Mi Cocina and the Magnolia moviehouse.

“Family and friends and Komen were there for me even when I didn’t want to play pink. As I’m working on this project, I’m realizing how lucky I am. I checked out emotionally but I didn’t have to totally check out. I didn’t have to die. Now that I’m drinking the pink, I get it. I understand why people are so into it. I see how great [being an activist] can make you feel and how infectious it really is.”

It’s hard to imagine where the idea for a massive, metal bra sculpture came from. But it was logical for Ezelle.

“My mom taught art and did this project with all of these bras made out of different materials,” she says. “When all of this came up, I immediately thought of that project.”

Four additional locations are already confirmed, but Ezelle hopes to add City Hall and Cowboys Stadium. The plan is to have businesses “buy” a strap on the bra for $5,000, which will enable them to have the bra on display at their location and have their company name and an additional inscription engraved on the piece.

Ezelle has already raised more than $30,000 but hopes that number will soar to $50,000 by the end of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. After that, she will make the sculpture available to other charities that support women’s causes. “It’s a sculpture that can do a lot of good things. We need to put her to work in other ways. Maybe with the bra straps I can do that,” she says.

Because if a bra is supposed to do anything, it’s provide support.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Rangers ‘It Gets Better’ petition gains steam

A while back we mentioned that online petitions had been launched at Change.org calling for both the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys to record “It Gets Better” videos.

At the time, the Rangers petition had only 124 signatures, but thanks in part to Equality Texas, which shared the link on Facebook earlier today, it’s now up to more than 1,700. (For those who are keeping track, that’s about 1,000 fewer than a recently-gone-viral petition at Change.org calling for Sesame Street‘s Bert and Ernie to wed. )

The Cowboys petition isn’t faring so well, languishing at only 57 signatures. Still, that’s better than the three people who’ve signed a petition — launched since our previous report — calling for the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks to record an “It Gets Better” video. (It would help if the folks starting these petitions would at least include the team logo.) We were unable to find any petition related to the Dallas Stars.

Anyhow, we’ve put a message in to John Blake, the Rangers’ executive vice president of communications, to find out whether the Rangers are aware of the petition or plan to record an “It Gets Better” video.

Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Tampa Bay Rays will become the ninth Major League Baseball team to film an “It Gets Better” video later this month. (And, by the way, those teams include the one with the very best record in the league, my Philadelphia Phillies.)

—  John Wright

What does Bishop T.D. Jakes have to say about Michael Irvin’s Out magazine interview?

Bishop T.D. Jakes

I finally got around to reading the Out magazine piece about Michael Irvin, and here’s my only question: Did Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Potter’s House megachurch in Dallas give Irvin his blessing on this? In the story, we learn that Irvin considers Jakes his “spiritual father” and that it was under Jakes’ counseling that Irvin finally came to terms with his brother’s sexual orientation – and his own homophobia. But Jakes isn’t exactly the type of pastor about whom you’d expect to hear that. He’s made some pretty bigoted statements over the years, calling homosexuality a “brokenness” and saying he wouldn’t hire a sexually active gay person. In fact, Jakes seems like exactly the type of person Irvin is referring to in this passage:

Irvin wants to eradicate homophobia in every corner of American society. He points to churches that have skewed the word of God to persecute those who don’t share their dogma; he shakes his head at the black culture he says has gone adrift in a sea of homophobia; and he said it’s time to end the second class–citizen status of gays in the eyes of the law.

“I don’t see how any African-American with any inkling of history can say that you don’t have the right to live your life how you want to live your life. No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality and everybody being treated equally, I don’t want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn’t deserve equality.”

One one hand, Irvin considers Jakes his spirtiual father, but on the other, he says he doesn’t even want to know an African-American person who doesn’t support LGBT equality — which, based on past statements, would be a fairly accurate description of Jakes. I’m curious as to whether the author of the Out story, Cyd Zeigler, asked Irvin about this seeming incongruency, and if so, what Irvin said. Here’s one possible explanation: A few years back, Jakes’ son was arrested in a gay sex sting at Kiest Park in Dallas. Has that changed Jakes’ views about gay people, just as Irvin’s brother’s sexual orientation changed his? If so, is Jakes going to speak up about it like Irvin has? And if not, is Irvin working on Jakes? If Jakes, one of the most influential African-American pastors in the nation, were to come out in support of LGBT equality, it would be just as significant — if not more — than Irvin doing so. We’re all ears, bishop, all ears.

—  John Wright

Cowboys legend Michael Irvin talks with Out magazine about gay brother, being an LGBT ally

Former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin tells all to Out magazine in their sports issue profiling athletes who are also allies to the LGBT community. Cyd Zeigler provides an insightful look at Irvin as he came to learn that his brother was gay and the effect it had on his life and career. Irvin, being the huge persona that he is, is surprisingly poignant and reflective about his brother who passed in 2006, as well as about standing up for LGBT equality.

The issue also includes athletes Ben Cohen, Hudson Taylor, Mike Chabala and Nick Youngquest.

—  Rich Lopez

Petitions call for Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers to film ‘It Gets Better’ videos

Sam Maden, 12, is petitioning the Boston Red Sox to film an “It Gets Better” video.

The San Francisco Giants have become the first professional sports team to release an “It Gets Better” video. Watch it below. The Giants’ “It Gets Better” video was filmed partly in response to a petition from activist Sean Chapin that gathered more than 6,000 signatures.

Not surprisingly, Chapin’s petition is inspiring others, including 12-year-old Sam Maden, who’s petitioning the Boston Red Sox to make an “It Gets Better” video.

A quick search of Change.org today reveals that Maden’s “It Gets Better” petition is one of dozens launched in recent days and directed at pro sports teams, including both the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys.

“You guys are real heros to many people here in Texas and have a voice,” Sam Medal of Plano writes in a petition letter to the Rangers CEO, which would be Nolan Ryan. “Please use that voice to let lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth kids know that suicide is not an option, that over time ‘It Gets Better.’”

Thus far, only 124 people have signed Medal’s Rangers petition, but that’s much more than the 14 who’ve signed a petition directed to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and launched by Gabriel Gorre of Smithtown, N.Y.

We couldn’t find any petitions for the Stars or Mavericks, which is a little surprising given that the Mavs are currently in the NBA Finals and, based on owner Mark Cuban’s views, might be the local sports franchise that’s most likely to actually film an “It Gets Better” video.

If the Mavs go down 2-0 to the Heat on Thursday, they should probably film one as soon as they get back to Dallas just to remind themselves that “It Gets Better.”

Seriously, though, could someone please start a Mavs petition?

—  John Wright

Yee, haw! Bull-riding for bucks (and bucks) is harder than it looks

Me before the fall (more pics after the jump)

Being atop of a mechanical bull in the middle of Cowboys Stadium is no place for a fat, middle-aged gay man to be on a Wednesday afternoon. But there I was yesterday, risking life and ego for eight seconds of possible glory.

The idea was a valid one: Raise money ($2,500 for first place; $1,000 for second) for my charity of choice. I chose two beneficiaries: Legal Hospice of Texas, for which I am committed to raising $500 by the middle of next month; and Mercy for Animals, because I thought it would be cool to give an animal rights group money for basically abusing a cow. (Since it was mechanical, it didn’t really count as animal exploitation, although Eddie Garza, MFA’s Texas coordinator, said he’d take the donation even if it were on a real bull — and he seemed unconcerned that my body would be the one taking the real beating.)

Cowboys Stadium is a charmless cavern when there are no events taking place other than something as small as this one, though admittedly, the lack of crowds was nice. On the huge screens play a continuous loop of Dallas Cowboys highlights, all of them winning plays — in other words, none from last season. Ten days earlier, the eyes of the world were focused on this billion-dollar temple to excess; today, the field looks like the parking lot of an abandoned strip mall. Gone is the Astroturf, revealing ugly concrete underneath where dirt is being shipped in. The rodeo will be there this weekend, and they need to dust it up.

That’s kinda what we’re all here for. Dickies is sponsoring, again, a media mechanical bull-riding challenge, where members of the press are invited to a bracketed elimination competition to see which pencil pusher can claim, briefly, some degree of athletic prowess. And they asked me to participate.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 01.21

Get Max-ed out on pop art

Despite painting presidents and celebrities, artist Peter Max will verge either on blasphemy or on genius when his work shows here. Using Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns football helmets as canvases, Max applies his vibrant colors to iconic Texas images. We say “awesome.”

DEETS: Wisby-Smith Fine Art, 500 Crescent Court. Through Jan. 30. RoadShowCompany.com

Saturday 01.22

A voice as smooth as silk

Yes, Johnny Mathis might be the stuff parents or grandparents are made of, but give him another  listen. He hasn’t been at this for more than five decades because he’s a slouch. The quietly out Mathis is a crooner and class act right up there with Tony Bennett, but without the retro appeal and MTV specials. He must have some appeal because we hear this show is sold out.

DEETS: Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. 8 p.m. $29–$80. BassHall.com.

Friday 01.28

There is more than ‘Brokeback’

Annie Proulx captured the soul of gay love with  her story ‘Brokeback Mountain’ that originally appeared in the New Yorker. Other works have garnered attention but she’s back with her first nonfiction book, Bird Cloud, which she’ll discuss at Arts & Letters Live in Horchow Auditorium.

DEETS: Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St. 7:30 p.m. $37. DallasMuseumofArt.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Beefy Cowboys tonight at the Round-Up on Monday Night Football

Dallas Cowboys need you more than ever

Jason Whitten

Let’s face it, this isn’t a great season for the Cowboys and it’s just not looking good for Super Bowl dreams. Going into tonight’s game against the New York Giants with a 1-4 record just hurts to think about. But, with Rangers fever running rampant, maybe some of that winning spirit will transcend over to Cowboys Stadium. The Giants are coming off a three-in-a-row winning streak but we hear some buzz on the Interwebs that the Cowboys are favored for tonight. Time to cash in on those miracles we’ve been praying for.

Otherwise, go Rangers!

DEETS: Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road. 7 p.m. Airs on ESPN. RoundUpSaloon.com

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Dan Hampton apologizes for Katrina, ‘Brokeback’ comments on ‘Pro Football Weekly’

On Monday we called NFL hall-of-famer Dan Hampton an idiot for saying that the Dallas Cowboys were more “Brokeback” than “Eastwood,” and that the Vikings needed to hit New Orleans “like Katrina.” In the above clip from this week’s “Pro Football Weekly,” Hampton agrees. “I’m an idiot, and I’m truly sorry,” he says.

—  John Wright

NFL analyst Dan Hampton to apologize on the air to the gays — but probably not the Cowboys

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reports that “Pro Football Weekly” co-host Dan Hampton is set to apologize on the air this week for a homophobic comment he made last week, when he said the Dallas Cowboys are more “Brokeback” than “Eastwood.” Hampton apologized Monday night for another offensive comment, in which he suggested that the Minnesota Vikings need to “hit that town like Katrina” when they play the New Orleans Saints on Thursday. From GLAAD’s blog:

Hampton publicly apologized for the Katrina gaffe, but has not yet addressed the Brokeback comment. Pro Football Weekly publisher Hub Arkush told GLAAD that Hampton will be leading this weekend’s show with an on-air apology for both statements. Arkush said “it shouldn’t have happened” and assured GLAAD that similar incidents will not happen again.

No word on whether Hampton plans to apologize to the Cowboys, who undoubtedly will perpetuate the homophobia by using his comment as bulletin-board material.

—  John Wright